A gate in the fence

A gate in the fence


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In 1997, floods in the Moravian and Silesian regions of the Czech Republic destroyed 7,000 homes and displaced more than 20,000 people.

Kumar Vishwanathan, a physics teacher from India who arrived in the Czech Republic in 1991, saw the needs of displaced Roma citizens and dedicated himself to helping.

His vision, funded by eighteen different local, regional and international donors, and implemented by 30 families made homeless by the floods was born.  Designed specifically to accommodate Roma and non-Roma families side-by-side as neighbors, “Coexistence Village” is the only community of its kind in the Czech Republic.

Renata Gaziova and Marta Hamarova are neighbors in Coexistence Village.  Except for the fact that one of the women is Roma and the other is not, their lives and their friendship would be unremarkable.  However, in the context of hundreds of years of tensions between the two ethnic groups, the moments that Renata and Marta share together are testaments to the possibility of mutual cooperation between these two peoples.

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